What to Do in the Adirondacks with Kids

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Want to load up the family and explore New York's Adirondack Mountains, but aren't sure what to do in the Adirondacks with kids? The area offers a myriad of activities, much of it catered to family-friendly adventures. Relive historic battles, discover nature, go hiking, rafting, horseback riding, and even mini golfing. But, despite what you do, make a spacious mountain vacation rental your family's home base.

  1. Mount Jo

    • Why Parents Will Love: Active hike and climb perfect for the whole family
    • Book a Rental: Lake Placid
    Mount Jo is a favorite hike for those who love the Adirondacks. The short trail is just under a mile. It’s steep and rocky in areas, but it’s great for agile children who like to climb. The long trail is just over a mile, and provides a gentler climb. To get the best of both, hike the short trail up and the long trail down. The view from the summit is the payoff - an amazing panorama with Heart Lake at the center and the regal Adirondack Mountains surrounding it.

    Be prepared to work up a sweat as the kids get in a day’s worth of exercise. Take water and a snack too. To stay comfortable, wear hiking or athletic shoes with a good tread. To keep the kids learning, look for bugs and lizards along the way, and try to name them. Make a friendly family competition out of it. Book a family-friendly accommodation in the Lake Placid area for the best access.
  2. Adirondack Equine Center

    • Why Parents Will Love: Gentle horses and attention to safety make it kid friendly
    • Book a Rental: Lake Placid
    The Adirondack Equine Center is a horse rescue organization offering gentle guided horseback riding on forested trails and the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex. Rides last about 50 minutes, and safety lessons are provided prior to the ride. Sleigh rides are also offered during the snowy season.

    Admire spectacular mountain views and overlooks of the quaint town of Lake Placid. The money you spend helps care for horses rescued from bad circumstances. Be sure to ask your guide about your horse’s rescue background, they love to share stories about their steeds.
  3. Enchanted Forest Water Safari

    • Why Parents Will Love: Water slides, rides, and activities thrill kids of all ages
    • Book a Rental: Old Forge
    Enchanted Forest Water Safari, the largest water park in New York, is what to do in the Adirondacks with kids who love water thrills. The Enchanted Forest caters to younger children by offering carnival rides, a train ride, a petting zoo, a storybook garden with characters, a circus show, and many fun water attractions. There are also activities for older kids: The Curse of the Silverback, Amazon, and Killermanjaro are adventure seekers’ favorites.

    The park is clean, parking is free, and you can bring your own food or eat there. Klondike Kates has delicious pizza. To take advantage of a few extra hours on your ticket - get there after 3:00 p.m., the next day is free. If you want a break on admission, look for discount tickets at local grocery stores. Vacation rentals in Old Forge are located close to this attraction. 
  4. Fort Ticonderoga

    • Why Parents Will Love: Kids get to relive history and Adirondack battles of the 18th century
    • Book a Rental: Ticonderoga or Lake George
    Built by the French in 1755 to protect Canada from British invasions, Fort Ticonderoga is a restored fort featuring displays, reenactments, and tours. The fort’s history centers around events during the Revolutionary War and the French and Indian War. Vistas of Lake Champlain and Lake George are breathtaking from the strategic fort location.

    Guides dressed in period costume engage kids during historical reenactments such as coordinated musket firings. You will get to see officers’ quarters, enlisted men's quarters, the tailor/cobbler shop, and an extensive museum. Inside you’ll find weapons displays, cannons, and mortars. Kids can also get some hands-on experiences in leather crafting, cooking, and musket loading.
  5. Ausable Chasm

    Ausable Chasm, the oldest natural attraction in North America, features exciting nature trails, scenic vistas, and impressive waterfalls. Rim Walk is a casual trail along a woodchip path perfect for families. Take along a lunch and enjoy it at one of several picnic areas overlooking the chasm. For older kids, there are more challenging trails too.

    Take a family rafting tour through the chasm, available for ages two and up. Tubing is available for kids four feet or taller. Mountain biking, disc golf and rappelling are favorite activities for older kids. In winter, the family can strap on snow shoes and explore the rim of Ausable Chasm. Book a kid-friendly spacious and affordable rental near Lake Champlain and you'll be set!
  6. The Wild Center

    The Wild Center offers opportunities to explore the natural wonders of the Adirondacks up close. Set along the Raquette River, the Wild Center compliments your own adventurous mountain discoveries. It’s a must on any list of what to do in the Adirondacks with kids.

    Don’t miss the comical otters, and watch the staff feed crickets to the turtles. The inspiring Planet Adirondack has an interactive floating Earth - a favorite for parents because it’s educational and a favorite for kids because it’s wonderful fun. There’s a lot to do, so carve out a full afternoon. Before you leave, let the kids pick up an Adirondack souvenir at the gift shop.
  7. Adirondack Museum

    • Why Parents Will Love: Lots of hands-on activities bring the cultural history of the Adirondacks to life
    • Book a Rental:  Blue Mountain Lake Lake Placid
    The Adirondack Museum, focusing on the cultural history of the Adirondacks, is anexcellent companion to the Wild Center’s focus on the region’s natural history. Set against the picturesque Blue Mountain Lake, you can see how people have lived and progressed in the Adirondacks going back to the 1800s.

    Older kids can watch a boat builder making a traditional Adirondack boat, learn the history of logging, and tour an early Adirondack cottage. Younger kid favorites include an antique clothes-washing station with real clothes to wash and dry, a lean-to with camp supplies to play in, a train engine to climb aboard, animal pelts to play “guess what” with, and a one-room schoolhouse full of crafts and games.
  8. Adirondack Balloon Flights

    With 30-plus years of flying experience and over 3,000 hot air balloon flights logged in the area, Adirondack Balloon Flights is the most exhilarating way to view the Adirondacks. This is an ideal family activity the kids will not stop talking about. Views include Lake GeorgeSaratoga Springs, and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

    A hot air balloon ride is a thrilling adventure for the kids. Snap a picture of their exuberant faces as you gently glide high above the landscape. They can learn something too, as the pilot shares information about the balloons and provides historical insight on the scenes below.  
  9. Adirondack Scenic Railway

    • Why Parents Will Love: The scenic train ride and entertainment keeps kids engaged
    • Book a Rental: Lake Placid
    The Adirondack Scenic Railway is a themed train ride from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake. The train robbery comedy show provides lots of interaction between the actors and kids, and there is an open car to get great pictures of the gorgeous views. During the Christmas season, kid-themed rides include The Polar ExpressSanta Train, and the Adirondack Christmas Train.

    You’ll have about 45 minutes in Saranac Lake. Use the time to see the Adirondack Carousel, a working carousel with original art sculptures of native animals that were hand-carved locally. Take a spin on Shelly the turtle, Wiggly the salamander, or Bug-Eye the black fly.  
  10. Around the World Mini Golf

    • What Parents Will Love: Educational and fun
    • Book a rental: Lake George
    Rated as one of the top-ten miniature golf courses in the world by The Travel Channel, Around the World Mini Golf is an Adirondack favorite. Choose from two 18-hole courses: “Around the World” or “Around the USA.”

    Have your kids guess where they are as you play each hole. For example, what state would be represented as you walk through a lobster? What country would be symbolized by a windmill? Where is Mt. Vesuvius? After a round of golf, get an ice cream cone at the Pink Roof Ice Cream Stand next door.

Kid-friendly Vacation Rentals in Adirondack